food holidays My Pennsylvania

Kiffles for Christmas

December 20, 2016

In our family, kiffles are something we enjoy every holiday season (Christmas and Easter). A kiffle is a Hungarian cookie with a flaky dough and a delicious filling, much beloved in the Lehigh Valley, brought here by the immigrants who worked the Steel industry and the textile factories.

They are highly prized and usually made in homes, although you can find them in grocery stores for an exorbitant price. They aren’t hard to make, but they are time-consuming. I find it easier to make them over time (like most labor intensive food), rather than devote the time necessary to make them all at once. The traditional fillings for kiffles are prune butter (lekvar), poppy and nut.

In our home, I make raspberry, and apricot plus the traditional. My recipe and techniques are from my dear friend, Lori. She makes them as a high school band fundraiser (go Liberty Grenadiers!) and also makes a delicious chocolate chip version. Lori’s recipe, and tips, which she graciously allowed me to share here, are gleaned from her experiences as a kiffle baker. She also learned from her by her patients, many elderly Hungarian and Slovak ladies.

Here is the recipe for the dough. 

Kiffle Dough

traditional, easy kiffle dough recipe

  • Prep Time: 60h
  • Cook Time: 12h
  • Serves: 12
  • Yield: 5-6 dozen cookies
  • Category:

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup confectioners sugar (to prevent sticking during rolling)
  • 2 (12-ounce) cans cake and pastry filling

Instructions

  1. Assemble dough Combine the 2-1/2 cups flour in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat the cream cheese and butter together at medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until very smooth and creamy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour-salt mixture slowly, mixing just until combined. The dough will be quite moist, but not sticky. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of lightly floured wax paper and flatten into a square about 3/4-inch thick. Cut into 4 equal pieces and wrap each separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, a minimum of 2 hours. Then roll out dough (using confectioners sugar to prevent sticking on wax paper) to 1/8 inch thick. Preheat oven to 375. Divide your dough into sections as shown above. Place about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of filling in center of each square. Roll as desired. Bake for 12-14 minutes until edges are lightly golden.

It is very rich and should be light and crumbly on the tongue. Make the dough first and let it rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours or more. When it is time to roll out the dough, let it come up to room temperature (it makes it easier to roll out).

A note on the filling, do not substitute jelly, jam or pie filling! You want a puree consistency, jams and jelly are too thin, seep out the sides and burn. If you live in the Lehigh Valley, you can find fillings at a variety of places; the best is at Valley Farm Market. Don’t worry, if you aren’t local, Solo brand makes terrific fillings, and you can find them at most grocery stores. Do not overfill your cookies! I use a baby spoon (pictured above) to measure out the filling and you want about 1/4 tsp per cookie. If the filling is escaping, use your finger or a little spoon to take off the excess.

Kiffle shapes vary from place to place. My shapes are a little less traditional. Some people form them like a thin cigar with the fruit/nut mixture in the middle. I’ve also seen them served as a soft crescent, so the kiffle looks like a rectangular tart. The dough is also a regional preference, I’ve seen doughs made with eggs, sour cream, yeast and even ice cream in the dough in addition to the cream cheese and butter. I like to keep things simple.These are delicious.

I place my filled cookies on a Silpat although you can easily use parchment paper about 2 inches apart.You want them barely golden, just around the edges. Cool them on a cookie rack and then gently dust them with confectioner’s/icing/powdered sugar. Enjoy this taste of Pennsylvania.

kiffles ripe for the taking

plated kiffles

 

If you would like to read more about the kiffles and want some additional recipes for comparison, check out the following:

kiffle kulture

kiffle recipe christmas pastry

Morning Call Kiffle Recipe

A kiffle makers Christmas

A kinship with kiffles

 

 

 

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